Americans Can Now Expect to Live Three Years Less than Cubans

life expectancy in the U.S. has dropped sharply in the last two years, to the point that now the average Cuban will live nearly three years more than the average American.

The latest numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that, in 2021, U.S. life expectancy at birth is now 76.1 years, dropping by nearly a full year from the 2020 figure.

Life expectancy for men is now 73.2, and for women, it is 79.9.

The decline means that several countries have caught up with or surpassed the U.S. According to World Bank data, Cuba’s life expectancy is 78.9, and China’s is 77.1, although both figures are from 2020 rather than 2021.

Other countries that are ahead of the U.S. in terms of life expectancy include: Colombia, Uruguay and Chile; Costa Rica, Panama and Puerto Rico; and Turkey, Greece and Albania.

All of those countries have a GDP per head in dollar terms that is less than half of that of Americans.

The U.S. ranks around 50th in the world for life expectancy (depending on data and what is considered a country or territory), and this has dropped 2.7 years since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There is a wide disparity between ethnic groups in the U.S. as well as gender. For example, an Asian woman is expected to live to 85.6, while for a Black man, the figure is 66.7 years.

The CDC said in the latest report that around half of the decline in the data was due to COVID-19.

However, the decrease in mortality for pneumonia (38.5 percent) helped the other way, as did a reduction in risk from other respiratory illnesses and Alzheimer’s disease. Other contributing factors to the decline were unintentional injuries, which include overdoses and car accidents.

Cuba bicycle taxi
A bicitaxi in the streets of Havana, June 2022. In Cuba, life expectancy is now nearly three years ahead of that in America.GETTY IMAGES

Life expectancy in Cuba has been less than a year behind or ahead of that in America since 1970, when the population of both countries could expect to live to around 70 years.

Cubans have access to free healthcare, which is one of the key socialist principles. The country has a high ratio of medical professionals and focuses on prevention and primary care.

In 1970, Chinese life expectancy was 59. In the years since, China’s life expectancy has steadily caught up with, and could now overtake, that of the U.S., depending on the country’s 2021 data.

According to the World Bank, global life expectancy dropped, from 72.76 to 72.75, for the first time in 2020, after recording 60 years of gains since 1960.

In that time, the U.S. has gone from being 17 years ahead of the world average, to just 4.5 years ahead in 2020, and potentially just three-and-a-half years ahead when the world data is updated.

Source: Newsweek